So I do this peculiar thing, where I prepend the author’s initials to the title of every book I add to Calibre.1 2

And all these years, I’ve just been manually editing the metadata, everytime I added a book, and changing the titles to what I want.
It’s not a problem if it’s just one book, but I normally tend to go hogwild with authors, normally buying out / downloading all their work.
And now that I’ve learnt the basics of the hammer called regex, I wanted to see, you guessed it, if there was a way to quickly do this using regular expressions in Caliber, which has inbuilt support for regexes.

A quick look through the documentation led me to the search and replace page, which explains really pretty well … well, how search and replace works :)

So what did I need to do?
I needed to take the initial character of the title of any book.
And then replace it with author initials + that character

So here’s the Calibre search and replace box when I choose to edit the metadata for multiple books.
I choose Regular expression as my MO and I choose the title field to work with.
You can see the titles of the books, I chose below3


Then, in the “Search for:” box, I go looking for a single character at the beginning of the title.
With regex I express that as a ^.
I’ve surrounded that pattern with () brackets to tell regex to remember what it matched.
You’ll see that I’ve matched the character succcesfully and the “A” from A Journey … and the “T” from Twenty Thousand … are missing in the Test results in the bottom right.


Now in the “Replace with:” box, I tell the regex engine what to match it with.
Which in my case are the author initials “JV” followed by a “ - ” seperator followed by a \1 which tells it to put the match that I found earlier back in.
You can see, now that the titles match the crazy way, I want them.


We do an ok, and Tada!
The books are renamed in the library :)


All hail the power of regex!

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  1. Why? ↩︎

  2. Calibre is a rock solid, does not get in your way, marvellously multifunctional way of categorising ebooks and comics. And that is just scratching the tip of everything Calibre can do ↩︎

  3. Click the images for a larger version ↩︎